If you’re operating in a high-risk industry, forming a safety committee may not just be beneficial — it’s often required. Different states have different laws about safety committees and meetings, and in some areas, even the smallest businesses must have them.
These laws are far from a nuisance, however. Forming a safety committee is a good idea for most businesses even if it’s not mandatory. By generating greater buy-in and participation from your workers, your safety programs will become more effective, and your bottom line will grow. Here are a few ways you can see ROI of a safety committee for your organization.
OSHA recommends that employers hold regular safety meetings, but there are no requirements for committees at the federal level. However, 14 states do have specific requirements for forming committees, and several more encourage their use through published guidelines.
Mandates vary quite a bit among these states, however. For instance, California only requires committees for employers covered under the state’s Mine Safety Code. Michigan requires them for all public-sector employers; on the other hand, New Hampshire mandates them for any business with five or more workers. If you’re not sure about your company’s requirements, check with your state’s OSHA offices to avoid unnecessary fines and penalties.
Workers’ Compensation Premiums
Similar to drug-free workplace policies, some states offer workers’ compensation discounts to companies that form safety committees. In Pennsylvania, for instance, any company that forms a committee receives a one-time, 5 percent premium reduction. Even aside from the other bottom-line benefits of safety committees, that’s a hard deal to pass up.
A safety committee can make a big difference in achieving buy-in from all levels of your organization. A truly representative committee will include workers, management and executives, as well as personnel from production and administration. Election by peers or appointment by collective bargaining agents lends even more legitimacy.
Ultimately, a well-rounded committee puts everyone on the same page. The presence of management and executives shows their commitment to creating a safe work environment. Likewise, representatives from each group of workers can ensure their peers’ voices are heard. Any safety program is only as effective as its execution, and proper execution begins and ends with buy-in.
Uncovering Safety Issues
Safety personnel find it difficult to root out and address every hazard — impossible, even, in large organizations with multiple worksites. Fortunately, committee members can act as eyes and ears for your safety team, reporting on newfound issues and potential problems. In many cases, committee members get extra training that allows them to spot issues other people in their departments may have missed.
With these committee members’ insight, you can correct problems before incidents occur, saving time and money and preserving your workers’ quality of life. When incidents do occur, committee members also can assist your team by filing incident reports, conducting interviews and determining the cause.
Reducing Penalties and Citations
Fewer incidents means fewer citations and penalties. Your committee can help prevent incidents and they can spot areas of noncompliance. Your safety team already is well-versed on OSHA requirements and state guidelines, but educating other personnel only makes it easier to stay compliant. Even when you do receive citations, some states offer reduced fines for organizations with standing safety committees.
Lower Incident Rates
Ultimately, the value of a safety committee cannot be overstated because it will help you achieve your team’s No. 1 goal: fewer work-related accidents and illnesses. Lower incident rates will lead to lower workers’ compensation costs and fewer expenses related to lost time, rehiring and retraining. Insurers tend to offer lower premiums and other incentives to companies that lower incident rates, as well.
To learn how you can make your safety initiatives even more effective with a comprehensive safety software suite, contact us today.